Posts Tagged: "patent eligibility"

Tillis Addresses Criticism of His Eligibility Reform Bill, Warns WD of TX Not to Backtrack on Standing Order

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has been perhaps the most active and passionate Congress person when it comes to intellectual property (IP) rights, and patents specifically, in recent history. In early August, he released the first draft of the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, which if enacted would abrogate the Supreme Court’s decisions in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S.Ct. 2107 (2013) and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012). He has also been closely involved with oversight of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on topics such as patent quality and has written numerous letters to the Biden Administration on issues including the waiver of IP obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, the theft of U.S. IP by Chinese companies, and more. While he seemed fairly exasperated by the end of his last attempt at eligibility reform in 2019, he explains below that the Supreme Court’s refusal to fix the problem by denying the American Axle case inspired him to revive his efforts.

USPTO Extends Deadline for Eligibility Guidance Comments via Federal Register Notice

Following U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal’s blog post in July explaining that she will be revisiting the Office’s 2019 subject matter eligibility guidance, the USPTO today announce a September 1 Federal Register Notice requesting public comments on the existing guidance. The Notice explained that “given the overwhelming interest in the guidance, the USPTO will now accept feedback via the Federal eRulemaking Portal until October 15, 2022.”

CAFC Snubs Inventor’s Argument that 101 Rejections Violate APA

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), in a precedential decision issued today, affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finding that claims to a computer system for identifying eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are invalid as patent ineligible. The opinion was authored by Judge Chen. The case originates from an examiner’s rejection of Jeffrey Killian’s claims of U.S. Patent Application No. 14/450,042 under Section 101 as being directed to “the abstract idea of ‘determining eligibility for social security disability insurance . . . benefits’” and lacking anything “significantly more” to satisfy Step 2 of the Alice-Mayo two-part test.

EFF Vows to Take Out Tillis’ Eligibility Bill

Last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced that it is launching a campaign against Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) proposed “Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022,” which would effectively abrogate the Supreme Court’s decisions in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S.Ct. 2107 (2013) and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012). The EFF’s post claimed the bill “would tear down some of the public’s only protections from the worst patent abuses.” While many in the patent community welcomed Tillis’ renewed attempt at clarifying U.S. patent eligibility law, others said the bill would create more problems by failing to clearly define terms like “technological” and including language that would be problematic for software patents.

Amicus Brief Backing Inventor’s Eligibility Petition to SCOTUS Says 101 Exceptions Constitute ‘Judicial Legislation’

On August 5, US Inventor and Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund (Eagle Forum ELDF) jointly filed an Amicus Brief supporting inventor David Tropp’s petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) regarding whether Tropp’s method claims are patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. 101. Tropp owns two patents relating to luggage lock technology that enables airport screening of luggage while still allowing the bags to remain locked. In July, just days after the Court denied cert in American Axle, Tropp asked the High Court to answer the question: “Whether the claims at issue in Tropp’s patents reciting physical rather than computer-processing steps are patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101, as interpreted in Alice Corporation Pty v. CLS Bank International, 573 U.S. 208 (2014).”

Federal Circuit Snubs Applicant’s Attempt to ‘Recapture’ Ineligible Subject Matter via Reissue

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today ruled in a precedential decision that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) correctly rejected a patent applicant’s reissue claims as “impermissibly attempting to recapture subject matter that the patentee intentionally surrendered during prosecution.” The opinion, authored by Judge Cunningham, explained that John Bradley McDonald, who is named as the inventor on U.S. Patent No. 8,572,111, amended claims 1-9 and 19-21 following an examiner’s rejection of them as patent ineligible, since they were not tied to a processor for conducting the claimed searches. McDonald added “a processor” to certain claim limitations in order to meet the requirement for tying the methods described by the patent to a particular machine and the examiner ultimately withdrew the Section 101 rejection.

USPTO Lawyer Explains Divergence from CAFC on Eligibility

June Cohan, Senior Legal Advisor in the Office of Patent Legal Administration at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today explained to attendees of an event about the Office’s patent eligibility guidance that there are no plans to revise the guidance in light of the denial of certiorari in American Axle. She also acknowledged several areas of “divergence,” or “outlier cases,” between the USPTO and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit (CAFC) approaches to determining patent eligibility which the Office has no plans for revising, despite the fact that the CAFC is the reviewing court for the USPTO.

A Plea to Senator Tillis: Words Matter in Section 101 Reform

In U.S. government, setting public policy is the sole and exclusive domain of Congress. The laws they pass effectuate the public policy positions that Congress alone has the power to set. In law, words are everything. The precise meaning of the words in law determines whether the public policy is implemented as intended by Congress. Altering the meaning of just one word can change the entire public policy set by Congress, even turning the public policy on its head. Anyone following the debate on patent eligibility can attest to how the Supreme Court’s redefinition of the word “any” in 35 U.S.C. § 101 to have an exception called an “abstract idea” caused a significant public policy change and that change destroyed countless startups, especially those in tech. Senator Tillis’ Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, S.4734, wrongly puts the courts in charge of defining public policy because it leaves key words completely undefined.

Tillis’ Promised Patent Eligibility Bill Would Overrule Myriad, Mayo

Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), the Ranking Member of the Senate IP Subcommittee, released the first draft of the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, which if enacted would, at a minimum, overrule the Supreme Court’s decisions in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S.Ct. 2107 (2013) and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012)…. This legislation would absolutely be a solution to many of the patent eligibility problems that have plagued the industry for the last decade. Of course, if the tech giants in Silicon Valley think this will hurt them the bill will be killed, period.

A Cautious Welcome: Patent Community Chimes in on Tillis’ Eligibility Bill

This morning, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, S.4734, which would amend the U.S. Patent Act to clarify the application of 35 U.S.C. Section 101 to certain technologies. While the bill was welcomed by many in the intellectual property (IP) community, since it would abrogate or weaken many of the seminal decisions that have arguably caused confusion on eligibility over the last decade-plus, some have called the bill out as being far from perfect. Questions remain with respect to the text’s language regarding the definition of “technological” and what it means for software patents, for instance, as some commenters note below.

CAFC Says Improper Litigation Conduct Warrants Attorneys’ Fees Award for Netflix

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential decision affirming a California district court’s award of attorneys’ fees in part to Netflix, Inc. for Realtime Adaptive Streaming LLC’s “improper” litigation conduct. The CAFC said that Realtime’s use of forum-shopping to blatantly avoid an adverse ruling amounted to “gamesmanship” that “constitutes a willful action for an improper purpose, tantamount to bad faith, and therefore [is] within the bounds of activities sanctionable under a court’s inherent power in view of the Ninth Circuit’s standard.” The opinion was authored by Judge Chen and Judge Reyna concurred-in-part and dissented-in-part.

Vidal to Consider Revisions to Iancu’s Eligibility Guidance

In a Director’s Forum blog post published earlier today, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal recounted the Office’s efforts over the last several years to make U.S. patent eligibility standards clearer for applicants and said that the agency will be revisiting the 2019 subject matter eligibility guidance issued by the previous administration in an effort to bring further clarity to the examination process.

CAFC Affirms Invalidation of Stanford Organ Transplant Rejection Test in Latest Patent-Eligibility Blow to Medical Diagnostics

On July 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in CareDx, Inc. v. Natera, Inc. affirming a summary judgment ruling of the District of Delaware, which invalidated claims from three Stanford University patents licensed by CareDx as patent  ineligible. The decision marks yet another blow to medical diagnostic testing, this time in the context of organ transplants, and the prospects of their developers for obtaining enforceable patent rights.

Canadian Federal Court Sets a New Subject-Matter Eligibility Test for Computer-Implemented Inventions

Clearing the air on labyrinthine subject-matter eligibility standards for computer-implemented inventions (CIIs), a Canadian Federal Court last month revisited the issue in Benjamin Moore & Co. v. Attorney General of Canada, 2022 FC 923. In its decision, the court, while setting a new test, rejected, for the second time, a problem-solution approach to claim construction followed by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) in examining patent applications. The appeal was filed against decisions by the Canadian Commissioner of Patents finding two Canadian Patent Applicants numbered 2,695,130 and 2,695,146 as patent ineligible under sections 2 and 27(8) of the Canadian Patent Act. Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (“IPIC”), an IP policy advocacy organization, intervened in the appeal proceedings, affirming that the appeal raised a fundamental question of Canadian Patent Law.

Petitioner Distances Eligibility Case from American Axle, Imploring SCOTUS to Weigh in on ‘Quasi-Enablement’ Analysis

Interactive Wearables, the petitioner in yet another patent eligibility case that the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to review, filed a reply brief on July 11 distancing its petition from that of American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc.’s, which was denied certiorari on June 30, 2022. The brief characterizes U.S. patent eligibility doctrine as being “perilously fractured” and narrows its arguments to focus on the third question presented in its petition, since the first two were addressed, and have now been rejected by the Court, in the American Axle case.